C&binet conference: Advertising the key, says Highfield

LONDON - Advertising will remain the predominant business model for the internet, according to Microsoft UK chief Ashley Highfield.

Highfield: confidence in advertising
Highfield: confidence in advertising

Highfield, managing director, consumer & online for Microsoft UK, said: Highfield said: "MSN is a successful ad-funded business. We buy and sell more inventory than anyone else. Advertising across display, behavioural targeting and search is where the future is. In five years' time, businesses that haven't transformed will have gone."

He was speaking at the C&binet conference in Hertfordshire, which has been convened by the Government to gather executives from the creative and finance industries. The aim is to debate issues such as access to finance for creative industries, new business models for online content and the future of content rights.

Mark Watson, chief executive of BT Vision, said that "in a world where people have access to everything everywhere" the way to differentiate is through content.

Watson added that regulation is "woefully out of step with the market", noting that policy-makers need to provide for growth conditions, leaving it to the industry to develop opportunities further.

Meanwhile, David Lammy, minister of state for higher education and intellectual property, said future solutions to protecting copyright will not just be national but international.

Though Lammy said regulation must be in favour of consumers' access to content, he added that "freedom to access is not same as access for free".  "Digital culture is based on access," he said, adding that "we are now seeing creative industries and governments trying to catch up and the UK is at risk of loosing the strong position our creative industries held at end of the last century."

Lammy said the UK government is aiming for "a world where rights holders will be paid for their efforts and where we see clarity and fairness".

Peter Mandelson, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council, will present some of the Government's plans on copyright protection to the conference tomorrow (28 October).

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